Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse

A cardiac catheterization lab nurse is a nursing professional and patient-care specialist who works in the cardiac catheterization lab - the examination area of the hospital that specializes in procedures which allow physicians to visualize certain aspects of the heart. These specialists care for patients who have cardiac catheterization for various reasons like heart defects, heart disease, and others. Although their role can vary, the primary task of the cardiac cath lab nurse is to assist the cardiac interventionist and the team of healthcare professionals in performing catheterization as well as monitoring and examining the patient before, during, and after the procedure. They also assist in the diagnosis and treatment of myocardial infarctions (i.e. heart attacks) which generally includes placing stents to coronary arteries.

What Are Some Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse Duties?

Some common duties that cardiac cath lab nurses are tasked with will include:

  • Perform a coronary angiography
  • Measure the pressure and flow of blood to the heart
  • Take blood samples from each chamber of the heart to measure oxygen levels
  • Prepare patients for procedures
  • Administer medications
  • Assist in the diagnosis of heart disease of the heart muscle, valves, or coronary arteries
  • Perform patient examinations pre and post-catheterization
  • Monitor patients' sedation levels during and after the procedure
  • Perform procedures like implantation of pacemakers, balloon valvuloplasty, balloon angioplasty, stent placement, and heart ablation
  • Monitor and document vital signs and look for signs and symptoms of infection
  • Educate patients on medications, healthy lifestyle, and how to care for the surgical site before discharging them
  • Help to manage the administrative aspects of cardiac catheterization
  • Update patient charts and maintain meticulous documentation of procedures

Where Do Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurses Work?

Cardiac cath lab nurses generally find work in cardiac cath labs. These can be found in the following settings:

  • Hospitals
  • Surgery centers

How to Become a Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse

Cardiac cath lab nurse aspirants must first earn an RN degree and become licensed Prospective cardiac cath lab nurses are advised to gain a substantial amount of experience in either the cardiac unit or the intensive care unit of a hospital. In the case that there's a major cardiac hospital or trauma hospital close to your area, consider looking for positions there. Lastly, after accumulating a good amount of experience, cardiac cath lab nurses should look to forge strong working relationships with cardiologists or cardiac intensivists (or both). Once this has been achieved, nurses will have a much easier transition into the cath lab.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

To become a cardiac catheterization lab nurse, the following educational requirements must be met:

  • Earn an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited college or university (BSN usually preferred)
  • Pass the NCLEX-RN examination
  • Hold an active, unrestricted RN license

Do Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurses Need an RN Degree?

Yes, cardiac cath lab nurses are required to hold RN licenses and should also have an extensive amount of post-licensure training. An ADN or BSN degree will be required, with preference given to BSN-educated nurses.

Step 2: Required Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse Certifications/Credentials

To be a competitive candidate for a cardiac cath lab nursing position, individuals should pursue the Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification (RN-BC) certification which is available via the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). To be eligible for this certification individuals will need to have fulfilled the following requirements prior to applying:

  • Hold an active and unrestricted RN license
  • Have at least two years of full-time experience as an RN
  • Have at least 2,000 hours of clinical experience in cardiovascular nursing in the previous three years
  • Have completed 30 hours of continuing education in cardiovascular nursing in the previous three years.

*Certifications must be renewed every five years

*Other certifications that are suggested for cardiac cath lab nurses include Basic Cardiac Life Support (BCLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and the Critical Care Registered Nursing Credentials (CCRN).

Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse Jobs, Salary & Employment

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men. This fact, mixed with the highly specialized nature of cardiac cath lab nursing work, results in extraordinarily high demand for these nurses throughout the country.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Strong evaluation skills, ability to make quick decisions, excellent clinical reasoning skills, good judgment, ability to work efficiently and effectively under stress, organizational skills, teamwork skills, and strong written and oral communication skills
  • Job Outlook - The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that available nursing jobs will rise by 16 percent through the year 2026. Since heart disease is the number one cause of death in the country, it's more than likely that the demand for cardiac cath lab nurses will increase at a similar or faster rate.

What Is the Average Salary of a Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse?

According to PayScale, the average yearly base salary for cardiac cath lab nurses is $73,950. In addition to a base salary, cardiac cath lab nurses can expect to receive employee benefits packages which typically include things like medical insurance, annual allotments of sick leave and/or paid time-off, retirement plans, and more. Salaries and benefits will vary based on location and employer. Other factors that will influence the earning potential of cardiac cath lab nurses is the amount of clinical experience in the field that they have, their education levels, and certifications held.

How Much Do Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurses Make per Year?

  • $55,000 – $103,000 annually

How Much Do Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurses Make per Hour?

  • $33.31 average hourly wage

Cardiac Catheterization Lab Nurse Resources